Berks County Department of Emergency Services
DirectLink Technology Center
2561 Bernville Rd. | Reading, PA 19605
Phone: (610) 374-4800 | Fax: (610) 374-8865 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
April 2010 Monthly Newsletter
VHF Tactical Interoperability Channels Hydrogen Sulfide Suicide Incidents
The FCC has designated "interoperability channels" in the In the past several months incidents involving
VHF band for public safety use. The intention of these suicides where Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) was used in
channels is to permit public safety users with VHF radios to a confined space (such as a vehicle) have been
talk to each other during events that require such reported. H2S presents unique hazards to first
interoperability. This saves you from having to worry about
responders as the IDLH (immediately dangerous to
programming your radio (and getting frequency
life and health) is 100 ppm. H2S is highly toxic and
authorizations) with channels that you use very
infrequently. If all VHF radio users include these channels may be fatal if inhaled and can be created easily by
in the way that is outlined below, whether you are a law mixing certain household chemicals.
enforcement officer, firefighter, or EMS provider, you can
call someone else with a VHF radio even if they do not First responders should remember that personal
have your particular discipline channel installed in their safety is the number one priority and keep in mind
radio. These channels should never be used for "normal the following issues:
Be extremely alert and aware on all suicide
VCall - This channel should be included in your scan calls;
bank and used to hail another user. Another VTac When approaching a vehicle, a visual
channel should then be negotiated to switch to for the inspection should be conducted before
rest of the conversation so that VCall is freed up for gaining access to ay vehicle;
hailing by other users. Personnel who arrive first at a vehicular
Rx - 155.7525, CSQ suicide and determine that hazardous
Tx - 155.7525, 156.7(5A) materials are present should remain outside
until personnel in SCBA can breach the
VTac 1 vehicle and extract the patient/victim to a
Rx - 151.1375, CSQ safe area.
Tx - 151.1375, 156.7(5A)
Rx - 154.4525, CSQ
Tx - 154.4525, 156.7(5A)
Rx - 158.7375, CSQ
Tx - 158.7375, 156.7(5A)
Rx - 159.4725, CSQ
Tx - 159.4725, 156.7(5A)
This picture was taken from an H2S suicide incident in a vehicle.
Note the plastic bucket and containers. Use caution when
accessing the interior of the vehicle if materials such as this are
Emergency Management Training Websites of Interest
Each month, the Berks County Department of http://www.stopdisastersgame.org/en/playgame.html
Emergency Services provides training to the municipal If you’ve caught yourself shaking your head at the
emergency management coordinators on a variety of latest building failures, evacuation follies, or general
topics. This training is free of charge and is open to ill-preparedness for disasters, here’s a chance to do it
anyone involved in municipal government or your way. Stop Disasters!, an addictive game created
emergency services. For additional information or to by the UN International Strategy for Disaster
register, please send an e-mail to Reduction, lets you pick from various disaster
email@example.com. scenarios such as earthquake, tsunami, and wildfire.
With a limited budget to build safely, get prepared,
and communicate, it’s up to you to keep your city
Date Time Topic
safe when disaster strikes.
4/28/2010 0800 & 1830 Initial Damage Reporting
5/26/2010 0800 & 1830 Red Cross Course
6/30/2010 0800 & 1830 Advanced Skywarn Spotter MapTogether
7/28/2010 0800 & 1830 Community Resilience http://maptogether.org/taxonomy/term/25
8/25/2010 0800 & 1830 Table Top Exercise Whether you’re looking for a slick way to illustrate an
9/29/2010 0800 & 1830 Legal Issues in EM evacuation route or trying to visualize vulnerable
10/27/2010 0800 & 1830 Work Environment populations in a pandemic, mapping technology can
11/17/2010 0800 & 1830 Radiological Awareness be invaluable—but small nonprofits rarely have a
cartographer on the payroll. That’s where
All training is held at the Berks County Department of MapTogether comes in with free training, software,
Emergency Services located at 2561 Bernville Rd. and other resources. Check out their site for
examples of how their tools can be applied to public
safety, disaster preparedness, and relief efforts.
FEMA Releases Partner Guides for National
Response Framework SPRING FLOODING
The National Response Framework (NRF) is
a comprehensive national guidance document that As with many communities in Pennsylvania, Berks County
addresses roles, responsibilities, activities, and is susceptible to the problems and hazards associated with
interdependencies for partners involved in
flooding. Flooding caused by riverine or flash floods can
response and short-term recovery actions to
disasters and emergencies in the United States. cause extensive property damage, displace residents, and
This includes local, tribal, State, and Federal also cause life safety issues. Due to the flooding potential,
governments, as well as nongovernmental it is important for emergency responders to be aware of
organizations (NGOs) and the private sector. potential locations for flooding in your community.
These partner guides provide a targeted FEMA has created an online tool to allow users to view
index to information in the NRF core document flood insurance rate maps (FIRMS) to identify if a
that is specifically pertinent to government particular location is located in a floodplain (an area
leaders and emergency management susceptible to flooding). This interactive tool, called the
practitioners. The guides are intended to serve as
Map Service Center is an excellent resource to become
a ready reference to assist users in quickly
locating sections of the NRF that are applicable to familiar with and bookmark as it contains important
partners. information on all aspects of flooding and flood insurance.
To access these guides and other
information about the National Response http://msc.fema.gov
Framework, visit the website at:
Reading Area Water Authority Source Water Total Visibility Photo Opportunities
The following sessions have been
What do these signs mean? scheduled for those individuals
who have not had their picture
You may have seen these signs posted around
taken for the Total Visibility
Berks County, especially in areas around Lake
Ontelaunee or around tributaries that drain to the System.
lake. The Reading Area Water Authority in
cooperation with Spotts, Stevens, & McCoy has No registration is
developed a source water protection plan to ensure required….just stop
the safety of the City of Reading’s drinking water, in….it only takes a few
which comes from Lake Ontelaunee. In the event minutes!!!!
of an incident involving hazardous materials in the
area of Lake Ontelaunee or tributary, normal
There are currently no sessions scheduled. If
mitigation techniques should be used to control the
incident while special attention should be given to you require a photo, please contact Berks
ensuring that the product has not entered nearby DES to schedule a time to have a picture
waterways or storm sewers. Notification to the 9-1- taken at our office.
1 center should include the amount and type of
product spilled, the areas impacted by the incident Annual Statewide Severe
and the responsible party.
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, in
conjunction with the National Weather Service
conducted the 2010 Spring Hazardous Weather
Preparedness Functional Exercise on Thursday, March
18, 2010. As part of this statewide exercise, the Berks
County Department of Emergency Services tested its
communication capabilities using the resources available
through the Berks County ARES/RACES organization.
Mr. Donald Boulanger & Mr. C.J. Dynes communicated
with over 20 amateur radio operators in Berks,
Lancaster, Lebanon, Dauphin, Lehigh, Montgomery and
Mass Notification System Program Update Northampton counties.
The Berks County Department of Berks DES would like to thank everyone who
Emergency Services, through participated in the exercise and those who took time out
our relationship with the East of their busy schedules to ensure that the county is
prepared for emergencies of all types.
Task Force, has been
successful in securing
funding through DHS to put in place
a mass notification system for all county
residents. This system will permit county residents to
register for this free service through a web portal. Once
registered, they will be able to receive to any mobile data
device or email, notifications from public safety officials.
This system will also become the county's primary
notification system for text paging of fire and EMS
personnel being activated for emergencies. Many more
details will be forthcoming as we move through a 90-120
day implementation process.
Limerick Generating Station Full-Scale Exercise After New Employees at Berks DES
Action Report The Berks County Department of
Emergency Services is honored to announce
During the week of November 16, 2009, the Berks the arrival of several new members to the
County Department of Emergency Services, the risk team.
and support municipalities surrounding LGS and
numerous emergency service providers and school John Fritz – Haz Mat Technician
districts participated in a full-scale exercise testing Ronald Hawk – Haz Mat Technician
the response capabilities of these organizations in Donnie Swope – SARA Planner
the event of an emergency at the Limerick
Generating Station in
Montgomery County. Welcome & Good Luck to All!!!!
As part of the exercise
from the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
the PA Emergency Management Agency and Exelon
Corporation monitored the actions taken by the
participating organizations and provided feedback on
the efficiency of their operations. The final report on
the exercise has been published and is available on
the Berks DES website.
First Responder Safety at a Small Aircraft or Helicopter Accident
As small aircraft and helicopters have become more complex, technology has provided systems that have
enhanced operational safety. In the event of an accident, many of these systems have presented additional hazards to
first responders or any potential rescuer at an aircraft accident scene. The FAA, in cooperation with General Aviation
Manufacturers Association (GAMA), various manufacturers and first responder professional organizations, has developed
training for safety at an aircraft accident scene. While the material was initially developed for firefighters, Emergency
Medical Services (EMS) and police, it provides useful information for any persons that may come across an aircraft
accident. The free training is available at the following website: http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/gen_av/first_responders.
Berks County Department of Emergency Services
DirectLink Technology Center
2561 Bernville Rd.
L.R Kimball has been requested to provide a Reading, PA 19605
needs assessment and design recommendation for Phone (610) 374-4800
the public safety radio system used by Berks County, Fax (610) 374-8865
Pennsylvania (County). The report addresses two http://www.berksdes.com
immediate shortcomings of the existing radio
system; congestion, the inability of that system to Department Leadership
provide sufficient channels for current and future Brian Gottschall, CEM
public safety communications requirements; and Deputy Director
coverage, the inability to communicate throughout Wanda Keener
the required geographic area within user-defined Support Services Manager
signal loss (e.g. buildings) and operational Robert Ashton
Communications Operations Manager
parameters. Matthew Stairiker
A complete copy of the report can be found Emergency Services Operations Manager
on the Berks DES website. Jeffrey Weidner, CEM
Importance of Volunteer Faces in Emergency Management
By Cathy Carter Dempsey, FEMA Disaster Generalist, Huntsville, Alabama
hristmas Day 2009 was Identify Potential Volunteers (CERT) members an opportunity to
an eventful day for many take a Preliminary Damage Assess-
volunteers across America During critical moments, it is ment class taught by representa-
that helped us recognize and impossible to know much about tives from FEMA. CERTs are often
appreciate the importance of the spontaneous volunteers, but now is included in training opportunities in
many volunteer faces in emergency the time to identify potential Alabama, which we hope will set a
management. Sadly, volunteers in volunteers in your communities. good example for other emergency
Maryland found the body of a Create a form for volunteers to give managers.
kidnapped little girl on Christmas their full name, contact informa-
Day, Civil Air Patrol members from tion, location, social security Tips to Encourage
the Alabama Wing discovered number (voluntary in most in- Volunteers in Your Community
bodily remains and aircraft debris stances – not always required, so
from a crash site near the Georgia take care with laws regarding Here are a few tips for ways to
border, while many viewers were personal information), driver’s help your volunteers have a
riveted to television news coverage license data, with releases to waive satisfactory, productive and effec-
about the passengers who foiled a legal action in case of death or tive experience:
terrorist’s attempt to use an explo- injury and to garner a background Discover if additional training
sive device on a Detroit bound check, or to use their photos if part expenses are eligible for reimburse-
plane. Emergency managers of a press release. The form should ment.
worldwide can significantly im- include information about the Notify volunteers of training
prove their volunteers’ services in knowledge, skills and abilities of opportunities.
roles that are both helpful and our diversely talented volunteers. Share training opportunities
meaningful to the giver and re- Ask about their disaster/emergency/ with fellow emergency managers.
ceiver. sheltering experience, administra- Create and publically post
Passengers scrambled across tive, clerical, telephone, security or updated lists of volunteer work
seats and aisles to subdue the language skills (including American available/needed.
Nigerian terrorist who came too Sign Language). Find out their skill Find ways to offer assistance
close to ending the lives of the 278 or knowledge level, and preferably with training-related travel or
passengers and 11 crew members document it with certificates of lodging.
of Flight 253 as it began its descent relevant training. Medical skills Provide awards, which could
to land in Detroit from Amsterdam. such as physician, nurse, aide, include certificates, plaques, news
“It sounded like a firecracker in a therapist, or current proof of First stories or other forms of apprecia-
pillowcase. First there was a pop Aid, CPR Infant, Children, and tion and recognition.
and then smoke,” reported passen- Adult, are vital assets, but don’t The holiday spirit of giving is
ger Peter Smith. One passenger forget to ask about animal care, a year-round spirit among volun-
jumped on the terrorist and grabbed such as veterinarians, vet techni- teers. Emergency managers can
the burning device while smother- cians, animal handlers or those with help foster the giving spirit and
ing flames with his bare hands. animal sheltering experience. nurture the growth of volunteers
After passengers took control of It is good to know if your throughout 2010 by using their
the terrorist, they stripped and potential volunteer prefers to work volunteer management expertise.
searched him while also making with young children, teens, adults, Emergency managers can
sure the fire was extinguished. This or seniors – and ask them why they garner more volunteer management
quick action was possibly due to a want to volunteer! Do they have a training with courses like IS-244,
learning curve that occurred after preferred volunteer task in mind? “Developing and Managing Volun-
9/11, when aircraft passengers Getting to know your volunteers in teers,” at www.training.fema.gov/
realized the only way to stop a advance prevents many safety/ EMIWeb/IS/is244.asp.
deadly event in the air is to immedi- security issues. Offer debriefings Check out the Library Topic
ately take control of the emergency. and counseling as needed, and called “Developing and Managing
Richard Reid, infamous “shoe- provide volunteers with yearly Volunteer Programs” at www.
bomber” of 2001, learned how surveys so you may revise your managementhelp.org/staffing/
quickly passengers can take programs when needed. outsrcng/volnteer/volnteer.htm for a
control. Emergency managers and In 2009, the Madison County great overview about the “benefits
homeland security officials encour- (Ala.) Emergency Management and challenges” of building volun-
aged greater vigilance during travel, Agency offered their Community teer programs.
and it is paying off. Emergency Response Team
Warning: Hot Coffee! - Building Construction
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Alert to Fire Safety Professionals
No. HC-2010-1 March 31, 2010
ALERT! Report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
any fires that you suspect are associated with problem drywall.
T he U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is investigating potential fire hazards that may be related to
problem drywall. They need your help!
While CPSC is not aware of any corroborated fire incidents to date, they are asking fire safety professionals to be on the
lookout for and to report to CPSC any fires that appear to be connected to problem drywall to aid in their investigation.
Corrosion (typically blackening) of air conditioning evaporator coils, electrical wiring, and other metal components
is a common symptom of residences finished with problem drywall. Consumers raising concerns about drywall have
typically identified a “rotten egg” smell within their house, several health symptoms while in the home, corrosion or
blackening of metal items, and failures of electronic devices and appliances. Consumers have also reported frequent
failures of the evaporator coils in central air conditioning units.
CPSC has launched an investigation of problem The ground wire connected to the green screw
drywall. is blackened from corrosion. This wire should be
The copper coils on this air conditioner unit are This copper water pipe is blackened.
blackened from corrosion.
For more information about CPSC’s drywall investigation, visit the Drywall Information Center at www.cpsc.gov/
Report problem drywall-related fires to CPSC’s Rik Khanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-504-7546 or Andrew
Trotta at email@example.com or 301-504-7578.
Eligible for Continuing Education Units (CEUs) For archived downloads, go to:
at www.nfaonline.dhs.gov www.usfa.dhs.gov/nfa/coffee-break/
Prehospital Response to
Radiation Accident Patients
This class is worth 2.5 DOH CEU’s
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Bally Community Ambulance
537 Chestnut St., Bally, PA 19503
To Register Contact:
Berks County Department of Emergency Services
(610) 374-4800 Ext. 8213
Registration Deadline – April 5, 2010